General Information about the IDD Psychology Program
One of nine graduate degree program areas of The Ohio State University Department of Psychology, the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) psychology program area offers a clinical science model of training in the specialty practice area of IDD, concerning children and adults with intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, and other related disabilities. Students in the IDD psychology program area earn a PhD in Psychology, and are eligible for licensure as psychologists in most states. This degree program trains and prepares students for a variety of clinical science careers, including conducting research; teaching at the college level; providing clinical care as psychologists in university, hospital, clinic, private practice, or other settings serving people with IDD; and program administration and leadership roles in the disability field. Areas of emphasis include the assessment and diagnosis of intellectual and developmental disabilities, diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems co-occurring with IDD, early intervention, problem (e.g., dangerous and destructive) behaviors, instrument development, health disparities, stakeholder engagement and self-advocacy, and parent training/family support. The hub of IDD psychology program area activities is the Nisonger Center, a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) devoted to the interdisciplinary study of IDD. IDD psychology students gain extensive training and experience in inter-professional practice, collaborating with professionals who serve IDD populations using a variety of evidence-based approaches.
The IDD psychology program espouses the clinical science model of education and training. This means that students receive rigorous research training, as well as training in the clinical practice of IDD psychology, with the explicit goal of preparing clinical scientists who integrate research and practice in meaningful and reciprocal ways throughout all of their work in psychology. Students who graduate from this program will be well equipped to pursue a career in IDD psychology as a researcher, administrator, or clinician. They will have experience in conducting and disseminating research at professional conferences and in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
IDD Psychology is ideal for students who are interested in any area of research relevant to disabilities. Areas in which students have specialized in the past include instrument development, social supports, problem behavior and mental health problems, applied behavior analysis, and intervention.
Program Accreditation and Licensure Preparation
Ohio State’s program is one of the only programs of its kind, training clinical scientists for research and practice in IDD psychology. The IDD psychology program provides a unique and rich depth of doctoral-level specialized research and clinical training in IDD psychology. However, this uniqueness also means that our program is not eligible to apply for APA accreditation, as APA only accredits clinical, counseling, and school psychology programs (and not specialized or hybrid programs that provide clinical training). However, we have structured our training program, including elements of the coursework, practicum experiences, and internship to closely align with APA standards to ensure that students meet the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) requirements for licensure as psychologists in most states. However, licensure requirements vary by state; it is important to be aware of licensure requirements in the state(s) where you may want to become licensed.
In 2013, the IDD psychology program gained designation from the ASPPB/National Register Designation Project. As it stated by the website for this project (https://www.asppb.net/page/JointDesignation), “graduates of designated programs typically will meet the educational requirements for licensing.” Although the ASPPB discontinued the national register project in 2018, our IDD psychology program is still listed in their historically designated programs list.
We are currently pursing program accreditation from the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS), and expect to complete the application process and receive an accreditation decision by early 2022. Importantly, PCSAS accreditation would allow our students to enter the APPIC internship match, complete APA-accredited internships, and will facilitate the licensure process for IDD graduates in several states where PCSAS accreditation is specifically named in licensure laws. We will keep applicants and current students informed about our PCSAS accreditation status as we move through this process. We expect to know the final decision regarding our PCSAS accreditation in early 2022, well before students applying for admission in Fall 2022 need to make their final decisions about which program to attend.
The Nisonger Center
Faculty and students affiliated with the IDD psychology program are housed at the Nisonger Center and contribute to the missions of both the Department of Psychology and the Nisonger Center. The Nisonger Center is one of 67 federally funded UCEDDs in the country. UCEDDs are interdisciplinary centers with a mission of conducting research, providing training, and offering clinical services to individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. Administratively, the Nisonger Center falls under the OSU Office of Health Sciences. Although all IDD Psychology faculty members are integral members of the Nisonger Center and the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, they may have tenure initiating units (TIUs) in either the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences, or in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health in the College of Medicine.
Students in the IDD psychology program benefit from resources, expertise, training, and programs offered across both the Department of Psychology and the Nisonger Center. Students receive a degree in Psychology, and benefit from all of the opportunities and resources afforded to graduate students in the Department of Psychology/College of Arts and Sciences. They take coursework in psychology, have access graduate student facilities and resources through the department, and often hold teaching assistant positions within the department. In addition, IDD students engage in research projects, clinical practicum, and a Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) fellowship through the Nisonger Center.
The Nisonger Center website describes many programs, clinics, and projects; IDD student engagement in these projects is welcomed. For example:
- Students complete their introductory practicum experience in Nisonger’s three diagnostic clinics, Interdisciplinary Developmental Clinic, School-Age Autism and Developmental Clinic, and Transition Clinic.
- The Early Learning Program, Behavior Support Program, and Social Programs all have advanced practicum placements available.
- Several current students are involved in research activities as part of the RRTC (Rehabilitation Research Training Center) project.
- A recent student conducted an evaluation of the Shakespeare and Autism program as a part of her dissertation, collecting fMRI data to examine brain-based changes in social synchrony.
Training Areas and Activities
Students in the IDD psychology program participate in four primary types of educational and training activities: (1) research training using a mentorship model and including completion of a research-based master’s thesis and dissertation, (2) clinical training, including completion of a series of practicum experiences and culminating in an 1,800 hour clinical internship, (3) didactic training across a variety of areas relevant to psychological practice, including assessment, intervention, ethics, theories of behavior, human development, statistics, research methods, and psychometrics, and (4) a fellowship in interdisciplinary leadership through the LEND program.
Details of program rules and requirements for the IDD psychology program can be found in the IDD Psychology Program Handbook, linked below. Students in the IDD psychology program are also expected to follow the rules and regulations laid out in the Psychology Graduate Handbook, and the Ohio State Graduate School Handbook. These documents are intended to work together and are consistent with one another, but contain different levels of detail about graduate school-wide, department-wide, and IDD-specific program rules, requirements, and expectations.